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CoBL celebrates 10-year anniversary

06/02/2022, 3:45pm EDT
By Josh Verlin

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

What a decade it’s been.

From the night Andy Edwards and I first decided to strike out on our own and launch the website we dubbed City of Basketball Love until now, it’s been a whirlwind of successes and setbacks, of lessons learned and stories told, not to mention lots of long nights, car rides, phone calls, interviews, and so much more.

Today — June, 2, 2022 — CoBL turns 10 years old. 

Frankly, it’s hard to believe. It feels like just yesterday we were introducing the site to the local basketball community, popping around to high school practices and summer tournaments for the first time, giving out business cards to everybody we met. 

Fast-forward more than 3,650 days and we’re the dominant force in local amateur hoops coverage, news and analysis, with a contributor pool of more than 20 writers scattered around the Delaware Valley, providing year-round coverage of the sport we all love. We’ve run dozens of CoBL exposure camps, with thousands of area players putting on a CoBL jersey and earning the attention of college coaches, and our other events are some of the best around from a competition and exposure standpoint. 

Collin Gillespie dribbles a basketball

Collin Gillespie (above, in 2019) has been one of Philly basketball's biggest stories throughout CoBL's 10 years. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)

Heck, this year we even became an award-winning publication, thanks to Christy Selagy and Andrew Robinson’s first-place wins in our division of the 2022 Keystone Awards, leading a total of six honors won by the staff.

There’s still a long way to go (and we need your help), but it seems like a great time to take a second and acknowledge all that we’ve seen and done thus far.

Our first decade includes too many highlights to mention them all. We’ve covered thousands of games, written tens of thousands of stories about countless athletes, coaches, scouts, and more. We’ve been to preseason scrimmages and Final Fours, Spooky Nook and Competitive Edge, Donofrio and the Chosen League.

We’ve seen Villanova’s rise to becoming one of the best programs in all of men’s college basketball, with local products Ryan Arcidiacono, Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo and Collin Gillespie cementing their places as Big 5 legends. Gillespie’s story on its own was one of the most notable, the unknown Archbishop Wood underclassman becoming the best point guard in college basketball, the NBA a very possible next step. 

We’ve seen Westtown Hoops dominate the Friends’ League behind the likes of future pros Mo Bamba and Cam Reddish, covered “the best team in school history” on numerous District 1 programs, seen Imhotep Charter establish itself as arguably the preeminent powerhouse program in the city — though Neumann-Goretti and Roman Catholic have strong arguments for that title as well.

We’ve seen Swarthmore’s men, a program with a long history of mediocrity (or worse), become one of the best programs in Division III under Landry Kosmalski, seen the end of University of the Sciences, seen quite a few other small-college teams in the region have their March moments.

We’ve seen so many other local players who’ve achieved great things on and off the court in high school, college and beyond, the first generations of CoBL standouts now into their professional careers, starting families of their own. The next generation of CoBL stories is just picking up a basketball for the first time, and we’ll be there to write about them when they’re ready.

Landry Kosmalski on the sidelines

Landry Kosmalski (above, in 2020) took Swarthmore's men's team from relative obscurity to one of the best D-III teams in the nation during CoBL's first decade. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)

Most importantly over the last 10 years, we’ve had an incredible group of writers, photographers, editors, and interns who’ve powered the site the whole time. I’m so grateful for everybody who’s written even just one story for CoBL, though there are quite a few who’ve contributed much, much more than that.

A special mention has to go to Mark Jordan, our staff photographer since our first month as a website, and who’s been to more events than anyone other than myself. Mark has been to multiple NCAA Tournaments in different states, shooting the Big East Tournament, AAC Tournament, A-10 Tournament, and many other big-time events, even if he had to leave Philly to do it. 

In the last few years, we’ve been lucky enough to have some terrific pros who’ve lent their time and words to the site: Kevin Cooney, Kevin Callahan, Joe Santoliquito, Andrew Robinson, Mitchell Northam, Kate Harman and Rob Rose have all joined the site in the last few years, bringing some serious weight and professionalism to the organization.

There are so many others who’ve played a huge part in our success: Rich Flanagan, our longest-tenured contributor, who’s been writing for us since our early years; Ari Rosenfeld, former CoBL writer-turned-scout, whose friendship and information has always been a valuable resource; Chick Gillespie and Al Rubin and the late Norm Eavenson, the trio of local scouts who took us seriously from the beginning. (We miss you so much, Norm).

That’s not to mention all the other non-CoBL journalists who have given some piece of advice (or a hundred) that have helped shape our coverage over the years: Mike Jensen, Dick Jerardi, Josh Newman, Jon Tannenwald, Ace Carter, Kate Harman, Dave Zeitlin, Matt Gifford, Matt Chandik, and more. Thanks to all of you, as you’ve helped us grow and learn so much.

Today’s also special for another reason — it’s the first day of my honeymoon. My wife Aurora and I got married in August 2020, four months after originally planned, and finally got to celebrate with our friends and family this past weekend. We’ll be spending the next two weeks exploring the Pacific Northwest and enjoying our time together, and then it’s back to work!

Regular CoBL coverage will resume on June 17 for the opening weekend of Philly Live, though we’ll have a schedule and preview of that Division I recruiting event on-site earlier that week.

See you all around the courts later this month.

— Josh Verlin

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